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Poetry Friday round-up is here! Scroll down to link up.

Laura Purdie Salas started a sharing group on Facebook around the journal companion to Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. One of the exercises asks you to steal a title to create your own story.

I recently attended an art show for my friend and SCBWI colleague, Denise Gallagher. The title of her show was “A Teaspoon and a Bit of String.” She is currently involved in an ArtSpark grant for her upcoming middle grade fairy tale. This is her title illustration.

A Teaspoon and a Bit of String by Denise Gallagher

I stole (like an artist) this title to write a poem. For a few weeks this summer I was cleaning out my parents’ home. They moved to a retirement home. I found treasures as I whittled through drawers and closets. A teaspoon and a bit of string fit just right.

A Teaspoon and a Bit of String*

We live in shared spaces
thirty years or more
storing things away
for someday
when you need
a bit of string.

Tie it to your shoelace
or round a simple gift.
Hand it to your lover
to remember you with.

Down in the abyss
of the silverware drawer,
a teaspoon speaks
of years of sugar
measured,
perhaps the purple medicine
to calm a cough.

I tuck this teaspoon
into days-old news
tie with a bit of string
and carry it with me
into next time.

(c) Margaret Simon
*title from Denise Gallagher

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol at Carol’s Corner
Anhinga by Michelle Kogan

Who knew the anhinga could be a beautiful bird, but through the artistic eyes of Michelle Kogan, it is. I love this painting she sent me for the Summer Poetry Swap (organized by Tabatha Yeats). And she wrote a poem dispelling the myth that this is a “devil bird.”

poem and art by Michelle Kogan

ANHINGA

Devil bird–
Not I, look in my
lichen-like
eyes. I’ll wait
while wings dry, for kindness to
cleanse rumors and lies.

Michelle Kogan (c) 2019

Kindness cleanses me with this wonderful poem. We look at nature and can see ugliness or beauty. We can find danger or kindness. Michelle reminds me that rumors and lies are not real; they are on the surface. When we look deeper, we find beauty and kindness. It’s there.

Thanks, Michelle, for this wonderful gift of art and poetry. Check out her work here: www.michellekogan.com, www.moreart4all.wordpress.com, www.MichelleKoganFineArt.etsy.com.

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

As I sit down to write this, there are 5 electric service trucks outside on my street and in my neighbor’s driveway. Hurricane Barry powered through over the weekend and took out a few branches. Nature’s way of tree trimming, but unfortunately, one of those limbs took out a transformer. We were only without power for 24 hours and thanks to a trusty, industrial generator, we didn’t suffer much. The guys working on the poles, clearing out the downed wires, and restoring electricity are heroes in my book. Many are not even from our area. They made the sacrifice to travel here in the wake of a major storm. We are grateful.

This summer my life has been busy in a different way from previous summers, no teacher workshops, no writing retreats, no foreign travel. I have not sliced in weeks because the topic feels too big for a small slice.

My parents moved to a retirement home. This is good news for many reasons. They made the decision on their own, and they are now in a place that feeds them good meals with a built in social life.

What needed to be addressed was the house they lived in for 29 years. This was not the home of my childhood, but it is the home of my children’s childhood. It was a place I took them to be loved. The house was on a lake where sunsets were glorious. My brother took my girls fishing on the dock. I watched herons and egrets and white pelicans. Sitting on the swing on the back porch was a favorite spot. Many family photos were staged there.

I’ve visited my parents every summer, so I looked back to blog posts written there. Here is a poem I wrote the summer of 2015.

Sometimes on the lake in June
white pelicans fly in together
and I get out the camera.
Then they turn as a drum line in step,
swim away swiftly in a cloud.

Sometimes on the lake in June
a lone blue heron fishes.
Sly step, long beak held high,
drinking in the sunlight.
A small boat passes by
lines thrown out,
catching nothing.

Sometimes on the lake in June,
I wake before dawn,
put the coffee on,
Sometimes Dad will join me
silent, reading the daily news.
Mom comes in pleased to have fresh coffee.
We sit on the porch, quiet
content to be together
on the lake in June.

(c) Margaret Simon

Sifting through the stuff of a house, the history of a life, is bittersweet. There were treasures to find, memories to share, and things to keep. My daughters and I have all taken things with us, but we will all miss the peacefulness and joy of the house on the lake.

Poetry Friday round-up is with Jone at Deo Writer.

Each summer I participate in Tabatha’s Summer poetry swap. Poetic gifts coming and going inspire me and uplift me.

My first swap came by way of email from Donna Smith. Donna has been busy selling her house in Maine and moving to Pennsylvania, so snail mail didn’t work for her. The method matters little when you receive a poetry gift. Here’s her poem for me.

poem by Donna Smith, 2019

My second gift was from Kay McGriff. She sent a notebook she had made by hand along with two bookmarks. Her poem for me is a golden shovel from a line I wrote on my blog during National Poetry Month. Both Donna and Kay included images from my life here on the bayou. I appreciate the time they took to read and learn and write a personal poem. We do this in the name of poetry love.

Golden shovel by Kay McGriff

Note about Tropical Storm Barry: Yes, we are in its path. We are ready. Our house is strong, and we have a generator named Sparky. All will be well. Thanks for your concern.

Poetry Friday round-up is with Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect

It’s Poetry Friday, and I don’t have a post prepared.

I followed links to CLMOOC, a summer gathering of writing project folks to stretch their thinking. Kevin Hodgson writes:

Here in CLMOOC, we’ve always actively pushed back on the “massive”. While MOOCs often were built to scale large, CLMOOC has often comfortably settled into the small. So, this July and August, we invite you to look closer at the world, to find balance with the small scale of things around you.

Kevin Hodgson

Kevin introduced a new term to me, feldgang. A feldgang is slowing down to notice something in a new or different way. This idea fascinates me. Poetry lends itself to feldganging (not sure if that is a real word.)

This morning I am combining feldgang with greenbelt writing, that writing that is wild and unpredictable and possibly of no real worth at all. A first draft of a poem while looking out my kitchen window:

The chickadees come to the feeder
chick-a-dee-dee-deeing.
They flitter their tiny bodies
in the trees, and try to stay unnoticed,
like butterflies to a bright flower.

I notice them
and think of this simple act
of feeding the birds,
a small plastic feeder,
some seed from a plastic bag.

I invite these small visitors
to my kitchen window.
I laugh at their tiny tweets.
Begin my day with a lighter step.

Margaret Simon, draft, 2019
Poetry Friday round-up is with Buffy.

Divination drawing pairs improvisational drawing with rationalized writing as a method of discovering layered meanings in thoughts.

John F. Simon
3/12/18 Divination Drawing by John F. Simon

Divination

He fell in love with
the smooth flow
of a pencil
drawing beauty
in lines
becoming shapes
becoming a feminine body
on a 3×5 card.

I fell in love, too.
Her face 
my child Self,
that tender one I lost
and seek to touch again.
I hold her in my hand
like a shell
from an endless shore.

She knows how to love me.
I am slowly learning
how to be loved.

(draft) Margaret Simon, June 22, 2019
ekphrasis on drawings by John F. Simon

I wrote this poem at a writing workshop around John F. Simon’s art show at the Hilliard Museum. The first line was borrowed from Barbara Crooker’s ekphrastic poem on Van Gogh’s Field with Wheat Stacks published on The Writer’s Almanac on June 22, 2019.

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life
Sculpture by John F. Simon, “Moment of Release”

The empty calendar of my summer has filled up leaving less time for writing. The cure for not getting exercise is to sign up for a class. So the cure for my lack of time to write was to sign up for a class.

At a local museum, The Hilliard, my friend Clare was offering a 3 hour writing workshop. I know from experience with Clare that she offers lots of empty space for real writing. We discussed our writing practices and our familiarity with ekphrastic writing (writing to an image). Then she sent us into the museum to the show of John F. Simon’s work.

I was immediately drawn to the piece in the photo above. It’s large, probably 5-6 feet across by 3-4 feet in width. The title of the work is Moment of Release. I love how the title really doesn’t dictate the interpretation. I gave in to this freedom to explore and released a poem.

Moment of Release

This collection
of energy
stored and sealed
into a protective sheaf
will one day open
the well
spilling contents
of a life–
rain it down
like a delta flood
releasing
to a renewable
Source.

Margaret Simon, (c) 2019

My advice to you is don’t wait for a workshop. Grab a writing buddy and head out to the nearest museum or gallery. If you take pictures, ask permission first. Gather words, images, sounds on the page to transform into a poem or prose. The poem I shared is only one of four I wrote in the hour we were given. I plan to give myself permission to take another artist date this summer. What about you?